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Ralph & Mary Wilson give UB $1 million

By Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-986977.mp3

Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has made a generous contribution to the University at Buffalo.

A $1 million donation was announced Tuesday morning by Wilson's wife, Mary, to honor physicians in the UB Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

Mrs. Wilson said the Buffalo Bills are very fortunate to have the expertise of UB physicians who treat injured sports players.

"I asked Ralph, what message did you want to deliver today? And he said, 'tell them you are the most important members player on our team, you guys, the doctors,' they keep the players on the team, playing," said Wilson.

Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Demetrius Bell was injured in the fall of the 2009. He was hurt in his sixth game, the Bills' 41-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans in November. Bell suffered a knee injury that took him out of the game and off the playing field for nearly a year.

Bell underwent cartilage transplant surgery on his right knee, performed by John Marzo, MD, the Bills' medical director who joined the team as an orthopedic surgeon in 1991.

Bell returned to the Bills lineup during the second preseason game, and then started all 16 games during the regular season.

Bell credits Marzo -- a University of Buffalo associate professor of orthopaedics -- with saving his career as a professional football player.

"I feel great, I have recovered well and every day, I thank him," said Bell, the starting left tackle for the Bills heading into the regular season.

Marzo said the Wilson's for the gift which will enable them to fund several priorities.

* buying an arthroscopy simulator and other equipment for the arthroscopy lab

* hiring a sports medicine clinical research coordinator to oversee major research studies

* supporting the Buffalo Bills Sports Medicine Symposium, which brings visiting professors to the university twice per academic year for lectures and workshops

"This generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Wilson means the difference between a good program and an exceptional one for our sports medicine residents and fellows here at UB," Marzo said. "I speak for the other team physicians and the entire orthopaedics and sports medicine department when I say that this donation is invaluable to our efforts."

Ralph Wilson did not appear at Tuesdays news conference. He's recovering from a broken hip. But his wife told reporters he is walking everyday with a walker and hopes to attend next week's home game against New England.